Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - Page 9 News List

Drought hotspots

By Tess Reidy  /  The Observer

1. California

The state’s water resources are at critically low levels and a drought emergency has been declared. The health department says 17 rural areas are dangerously parched.

2. Brazil

Sao Paulo, the country’s largest city, is on the verge of water rationing because of a severe drought and shortages are possible when the country hosts the soccer World Cup in the summer. Last month was the hottest month on record in the city and water in its main reservoir has fallen to 20.9 percent of its capacity, the lowest level in a decade.

3. Middle East

Tehran, the capital of Iran, is facing a shortage so serious that officials are making contingency plans for rationing in an area where 22 million live as well as in other big cities. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has identified water as a national security issue.

Shortages are so severe in the United Arab Emirates that the country is using non-conventional resources, including desalination, treated wastewater, rainwater harvesting and cloud seeding. At a water conference, Crown Prince General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said: “For us, water is [now] more important than oil.”

With the third-lowest water reserves in the region, Jordan is struggling to cope with an influx of Syrian refugees. The country is undergoing power cuts because of water shortages. Prince Hassan, uncle of King Abdullah, warned last week that a war over water and energy could be bloodier than the Arab spring.

4. North Africa

Egypt has demanded that Ethiopia stop construction of a mega-dam on the Nile, vowing to protect its historical rights to the river at “any cost.” The Egyptian authorities have called for a study into whether the project would reduce the river’s flow.

5. South Asia

About 600 million people live on the 2,000km swathe that extends from eastern Pakistan, across the hot dry plains of northern India and into Bangladesh and the land is the world’s most intensely irrigated. Up to 75 percent of farmers rely on pumped groundwater.

6. China

There is increasing competition for water. More than half the proposed coal-fired power stations are expected to be built in areas of high water stress, thus threatening water insecurity for farms, other industry and the public.

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